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What is the best way to lose weight during the menopause transition is probably the most common question I get asked.
This article will detail for women how to lose menopause belly naturally and without deprivation or constantly feeling hungry. Importantly, following the tips given in this post will prevent further postmenopausal weight gain.
You still eat healthily, in fact, you’re drowning under a mountain of kale and coconut water and religiously endure tucking yourself into exercise tights to endure the gym full of buff bods but you aren’t losing weight that appeared, as if out of nowhere, around your belly? Read on my kale chomping friend.
Towards the end of perimenopause I remember looking at my belly in the mirror one day and thinking, with Marie Kondoish certainty “you don’t bring me joy, thank you for being a part of me but now, you have to go.”
What is the average menopause weight gain?
Abdominal fat, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety, and horrible bloating are just a few menopausal symptoms some of us have to deal with in menopause.
And it seems like the Universe was “Nup! That’s not enough I’m going to throw in weight gain just to add a bit more character-building opportunities for you.”
Many women will gain weight of about 7 and 12 pounds during menopause.
All thanks to our hormones which control important functions such as energy, digestion, hunger, sleep, and metabolism.
If these delicate workhorses are out of balance our health can suffer and weight can pile on, usually around your middle in midlife.
Unfortunately losing weight becomes a little more difficult with age.
Conventional medicine offers hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but this is controversial and many women prefer to not go down that route. Always consult your doctor and make your own informed decision if hormone therapy is right for you.
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What causes weight gain during menopause?
Estrogen: This hormone is responsible for healthy bone density, skin tone and elasticity and it also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Estrogen decreases food cravings, makes the thyroid gland produce the T3 hormone which increases how fast our bodies burn energy and aids in keeping muscles strong. Estrogen levels play a key role in how easy it is to maintain or lose weight.
Progesterone: Progesterone keeps our metabolism running smoothly and helps with digestion. It works with estrogen to form memories in the brain that reduce how much food is consumed even when there’s nothing wrong!
When progesterone levels are low more energy is required so women tend to eat more.
How Can I Lose Weight In Menopause Naturally?
So what are some of the most effective things to do for losing weight during menopause?
1. Avoid added sugar
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “Sugar is the ultimate chronic stressor—it’s poison.”
Not only does it cause cravings, blood sugar spikes, and insulin resistance which leads to weight gain but how much damage it does to your body is staggering.
Sugar destroys brain cells, breaks down collagen (the glue that holds our bodies together) and wears down our immune system.
It’s the stuff that makes us look and feel like crap and can even cause menopause symptoms to persist longer than they should.
Cereals that are bathed in sugar, sodas, sweets, cake, biscuits. These are the foods that should be avoided and is probably the single easiest thing you can do to prevent weight gain.
So after that little bit of a negative rant we need something positive.
And here it is.
2. Enjoy some treats
Allow yourself to enjoy the odd treat as part of your healthy diet. Sweet things, alcohol and high carb foods can be a moderate part of a healthy weight loss diet. The trick is to monitor your portions and make sure your energy output is enough to counteract your energy input.
As a tip and an example what I do is cut whatever it is in half. A half an almond croissant with my Saturday coffee, after I’ve biked in to the city to get it. You get the satisfaction of having something yummy without over indulging. The best of both worlds!
3. Exercise is an important weight-loss tool
As you enter the perimenopausal years (the transition phase before menopause) it’s normal to feel less enthusiastic about physical activity. But it is now more important than ever to start guarding against muscle loss and increasing strength which will help with many things including that all imortant stability.
But now is the time to get consistent with an exercise routine that works with your body to build lean muscle mass and burn body fat.
Aim for at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise and strength or weight training using either weights our your own body weight each day.
Strength training will build muscle mass which increases your metabolism allowing for more fat-burning ability.
Cardio will burn energy directly and doesn’t have to be a full-on 5 mile run to be useful.
4. Get enough quality sleep
There is plenty of research to show the influence that high quality sleep has on your metabolic rate.
And as we age it can be more difficult to get a good night’s rest.
The consensus is to get 7-9 hours every night to help avoid menopausal weight gain.
The best place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine and making sure you are comfortable and turned off from outside distractions once you get into bed. Here are some tips to help:
- Get what is in your head out. I have a pretty journal that I get out every night and write my affirmations, gratitudes and a shortlist of to-dos for the next day.
- We have a bedroom that is quite light so I fully recommend wearing an eyemask. I never thought I could get used to it, now I couldn’t do without mine.
- Turn off electronics an hour before turning out the light. Don’t eat for at least 2 hours before retiring.
Related Post: How To Sleep Better At Night Naturally
5. Keep on top of your stress
Many things can trigger stress responses in your body. That response then triggers hormones that make us want to eat more and, unfortunately, not know when to stop.
To make matters worse some hormones make us crave the bad things.
There are stressors within your power to change through lifestyle changes while others for it’s about adjusting your response to them.
For example: Getting up just a little earlier would allow for more time in the morning and remove the anxiety of always having to rush to be out of the door. While the worry of things not going as planned requires you to be able to temper your response in the moment to keep calm.
Regular meditation or yoga is a great place to start. For a quick way to calm yourself in stressful moments try the 4-7-8 method of breathing.
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The best diet plan for menopause weight loss
Pay attention to your eating habits. Mindful eating is an important part of any eating plan. It essentially means taking time to enjoy and notice your food. And to only eat when you’re hungry. There is new evidence to say meal timing and portion sizes is important with a move away from 5 or 6 small meals a day.
Foods to include:
Eating plenty of vegetables will help you to feel full for longer, avoid spikes in blood sugar and they are also full of vitamins which is great if you are deficient due to lack of absorption.
Make sure to include dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet to keep your bones strong.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are also great for you great for detoxifying excess hormones.
Although fruit does contain sugar it is better compared to how much you would normally eat. To get more fiber in try eating it with the skin on where possible -especially apples.
They are also rich in vitamins that can help reduce how much estrogen your body produces.
Legumes are also great for you as they are full of fiber and protein which makes them filling too. I love how versatile they are, you can make curries, stews, casseroles, etc with beans or lentils.
You could try experimenting by adding kombu seaweed to your legumes which is high in iodine. As per the recommendations of Dr Axe Iodine is important during menopause as it deals with how hot flashes are experienced.
Fish and meat
Wild fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, but make sure to get a large variety of seafood if you can’t eat wild fish.
Organ meat, such as liver and kidney, are great sources of vitamin A which is important for how many nutrients get absorbed from food.
Eggs are also packed with goodness like folate (needed for the cardiovascular system) and fat-soluble vitamins -A, D, E, and K- while being low in calories so you can eat them guilt-free.
Omega 3 fatty acid is the fat for the brain and is important to help improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. It delivers many health benefits for women in midlife including guarding against heart disease. Salmon, sardines and linseed are all excellent sources of Omega 3.
You can use coconut oil to cook with or choose olive oil over vegetable oils that have high levels of Omega-6 fats. Although these fats are still an essential part of our diet they are easily over consumed. They are too pro-inflammatory for our systems in large quantities which is why I only buy extra virgin olive oil.
These are plant-based estrogens that have a similar structure to how estrogen is produced in our bodies. Phytoestrogens can up how much fresh testosterone you have which can help you with healthy weight loss. Foods high in phytoestrogens include:
Soybeans and soy products like tofu, tempeh, soymilk etc.
Good protein sources
including nuts, seeds and legumes.
Can menopause make you lose weight?
With estrogen levels falling your system becomes less sensitive to estrogen and progesterone which can cause your appetite to change. This is how the menopausal transition can cause some women to eat less and decrease body fat.
For further reading take a look at this post by the fabulous and knowledgeable Dr Anna Cabeca at Mind Body Green
The quickest way to lose menopausal weight is by consistently following a meal plan and exercise program. The meal plan should be full of nutrient-dense foods and the exercise program should include strength training and cardio. program. Make sleeping a priority and practice mindfulness eating.
During perimenopause, or menopause, it may be more difficult but it is possible. Your diet should be full of nutrient-dense foods. Exercise regularly and include strength training and cardio. Make sleeping a priority and practice mindfulness, and mindfulness eating.
It definitely possible, and it’s a good idea if you’re overweight and want to improve your health.
1. Eat a healthy diet full of fiber, vegetables, a moderate amount of protein and good fats.
2. Exercise regularly especially resistance training
3. Drink plenty of water
4. Get good sleep
5. Lower stress levels
6. Avoid added sugars
7. Try intermittent fasting
As you go through perimenopause and on into menopause the hunger stimulating hormone, Ghrelin increases while the hormone the tells you when you’ve eaten enought decreases. This causes many women to constantly feel hungry and overeat.